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Response overwhelming for park bench project

Published December 21. 2009 05:00PM

Support for a community project that will install benches in the Palmerton Borough Park has been off the charts.

So much so, that the Palmerton Concourse Club must actually put a cap on sponsorships by the end of this year for its Benches Program.

Due to an "overwhelming response"of donations and sponsors, 87 benches have been sponsored to date, according to Christine Campbell, president.

In fact, Campbell said the group already has a minimum of eight class sponsored benches from the likes of the Classes of 1952, 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1959, among others.

"We have business sponsored benches, we have family sponsored benches, as well as individuals," Campbell said. "Due to word of mouth, even past residents of Palmerton have sponsored benches."

Some of whom live as far away as Florida, Arizona, and Oklahoma, said Campbell, who added the group has targeted the spring/summer to assemble the benches.

However, Campbell noted the project figures to be rather time-consuming.

"At first, we felt they could all be assembled in one day, but now, we probably will need more than one day, because of the number of them," she said. "We'd like to do them in installments."

That's because all the boards must be stained before the benches can even be assembled. If the group has 100 benches sponsored by the end of the year, that means 500 boards must be stained, Campbell said.

"It's a big project," she said. "Thankfully, members of the community have volunteered their time and the club will take them up on it."

Campbell said volunteers can expect to receive a call in the new year. Due to space consideration in the park, she said the group can only continue to accept sponsorships until the end of this year so that not to disrupt the landscaping.

The group also plans to keep the Friends of the Park subcommittee of the Concourse Club in full gear after the project's completion to enable maintenance of the benches, she said.

"Not only will the benches be a big improvement to the appearance of the park, but since we have such an overwhelming number of sponsored benches, it will be a memorial to all," Campbell said. "This is a big investment, so we want to make sure that it's enjoyable for all for many years."

Campbell thanked the Palmerton Lumber Company, which helped coordinate the project with the Concourse Club.

Formed in the borough on Jan. 21, 1915, the Concourse Club was established to promote interest in education, social, welfare, moral values, governmental affairs, and fine arts.

From its modest beginnings as a member of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the Concourse Club has become one of the largest community service organizations in Carbon County, with about 120 active members.

Since its inception, the group has placed an emphasis on health and children's projects, and has provided significant support to the Palmerton Area Library, the Palmerton Wheels "Books for Babies" to encourage reading to children, and Operation Smile, to provide corrective surgery for children suffering from severe facial deformities.

In addition to its social and educational programs, the Concourse Club has been instrumental in maintaining the quality and character of the borough park.

The group restored the bandstand, and provided the financial support for walkways improvements, new lighting, and free replacement in the park as well.

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